Acts of the Apostles 4:32-35
The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.
1 John 5:1-6
Beloved: Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God, and everyone who loves the Father loves also the one begotten by him. In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith. Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and blood. The Spirit is the one that testifies, and the Spirit is truth.
Gospel Cycle Cycle B
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
This Sunday is so important that it has lots of titles in the tradition. It is the Octave of Easter. Up until about 1970 it was known as Low Sunday. It has also been called Thomas Sunday and Quasimodo Sunday. In some Eastern traditions it is called Renewal Sunday or Antipascha Sunday. Probably most of us have not even heard of some these titles, but may have heard of one or two of them. The titles simply reflect how important this Sunday is.
We should all know that movements begin often with great accord and a common approach to living. Then, as movements begin to mature, there come questions and differences and then conflicts. This early Christian community was no different. In the Acts of the Apostles today we read of the wonderful harmony and sharing among the followers of Jesus at the beginning. It is the same book, the Acts of the Apostles, that will also record the beginnings of disharmony and conflict. The fact that the majority of the followers of Jesus still keep some harmony among themselves is one of the miracles of history. We know that the history of our Christian faith is also marked with the differences and conflicts that have arisen over the centuries. The challenge for you and for me is to keep our eyes on the Lord and on His love for us.
This harmony that we can have is based in the second reading today: In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments. The victory that conquers the world is our faith.
We are always trying to narrow the love that we must have. It is clear from Jesus, however, that He died for all, without exception. That means that we must love all, without exception. So historically there have been claims to killing others is really loving them, that forcing others to the truth is really loving them, that all types of actions against others are really a sign of our love. Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, calls us to seek ways of loving others without compromise: respecting their life, their freedom, their peculiarities, their ways of thinking, and so on. In the midst of that, we must remain faithful to all that Jesus taught us, personally and through His Church.
So we come to Gospel of John today and the story of the Apostle Thomas. We are all probably most like the followers of Jesus who have met Him in one way or another and sort of believe. Yet there are always some like Thomas, who refuse to believe until something extraordinary happens. This reality is reflected in our daily lives as well: openness to seeking the Lord or a reservation in seeking Him; openness to seeing Christ in others or a reservation about His presence in others; openness to encountering Jesus in those who do not believe or an openness to His presence there in the center of unbelief.
The Gospel does not condemn Thomas! Jesus, on the contrary, simply speaks of the belief of Thomas and praises those who can believe without seeing. Whichever model is closer to our own lives, the important reality is simple: believe and follow the Lord! May this Sunday of Divine Mercy help us know that mercy in our lives and share it with others. He is truly risen. Alleluia.